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Tribeca Review Capsule: ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

Tribeca Review Capsule: 'The Five-Year Engagement'

It was called “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but it was an hard movie to forget: Russell Brand in a star-making supporting performance as a hedonistic rockstar, the musical version of “Dracula” performed entirely by puppets, and Jason Segel going the full monty for an emotionally and physically revealing breakup scene. Four years after the pants-dropping success of “Sarah Marshall,” the creative team behind the film — director Nicholas Stoller, producer Judd Apatow, and writer/star Jason Segel — have reunited for a new project, “The Five-Year Engagement,” which premiered last night as the Opening Night Film of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Early word from the few critics in attendance suggests that if the film doesn’t settle into theaters for a multi-year engagement, it should still have a decent run.

Segel and Emily Blunt star as Tom and Violet, a happily engaged couple whose impending nuptials are repeatedly put off by career-related monkey wrenches.  They relocate for Violet’s job, which puts Tom’s professional life on hold, which puts their relationship into a slow-burning crisis.  In The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore praised the down-to-earth story said, which he said “feels a bit more like something viewers might see in their own lives” than the standard Hollywood rom-com.  As with other Apatow productions, the film runs longer than the genre standard 90 minutes and “Stoller and Segel make the audience feel the grind of this pause in the couple’s plans” while keeping “the comic vibe afloat with occasional false-start wedding attempts.”

At least that was DeFore’s take — John Anderson’s at Variety wasn’t quite so positive.  Saying it occasionally feels like “The 25-Year Engagement,” Anderson called the film “overlong” with “nothing really at stake.”  Tom and Violet can’t get pull the trigger on a wedding but, Anderson wrote, “their lives are already intertwined, emotionally, spiritually and practically… Had ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ been made 40 years ago, it would have had a cogent, if not exactly hilarious, joke: a loving couple thwarted by fate from ever being together. But here, they already are together.” Consequently, he said, there’s “no tension to the story.”

Mark Adams made similar critiques about the film at Screen Daily. Also noting the two-hour-plus runtime, Adams said the film “often labors under the weight of too many minor characters fighting for screen time and not enough emphasis on the Segel/Blunt romance,” and predicted the film would ultimately fall short of Apatow’s last production, “Bridesmaids,” at the box office. He reserved his biggest compliments for the stars, calling Segel “genial and funny” and Blunt “a comedy natural…brimming with intelligence and good-heartedness.”

The uncredited critic who wrote The Playlist‘s review found good-heartedness throughout the film, praising “The Five-Year Engagement” as “a genuinely affecting picture about the all-too-real complications and expectations of trying to tie the knot while negotiating careers, complex emotional baggage and family obligations.” If the film “starts to go awry” in the second act, its humor apparently remains “intact.”  

You’ll be able to determine the level of humor intactness for yourself when “The Five-Year Engagement” opens in theaters on April 27. Now let’s see what folks on Twitter had to say about the film:

Instant Twitterverse Reaction:

Eugene Hernandez, Film Society of Lincoln Center:

“Opening nite @TribecaFilmFest: ‘The Five Year Engagement’ is basically ‘1 Wedding & 4 Funerals.’ But, I’m not gonna give away the ending.”

Ben Lyons, Extra:

“Great time tonight at ‘The Five Year Engagement’ premiere. @alisonbrie KILLS IT!”

Steve Guttenberg, Actor, “Police Academy:”

“Just went to the” five year engagement”.premeire in N.Y. It was wonderful! Jason Segel, Emily Blunt , whole cast and production was superb!

David Wain, Director, “Wanderlust:”

“Saw ‘Five Year Engagement’ and I laughed & thought & cried & laughed more. See it! Well done @nicholasstoller @JuddApatow.”

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